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Soldiers sue DoD for retaliation against rape victims, Gates and Rumsfield named

Lawsuit says military tolerates rape, assault

By Rick Maze – February 15, 2011 – A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday charges the Defense Department with responsibility for rape and sexual assault in the ranks by failing to investigate the sex crimes, failing to prosecute the perpetrators and maintaining a weak judicial system.

The suit claims, specifically, that current Defense Secretary Robert Gates and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are responsible for a military in which rape and sexual assault victims “were openly subjected to retaliation,” discouraged from reporting the crimes and “ordered to keep quiet and refrain from telling anyone about the criminal acts.”

The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages, but Keith Rohman of Public Interest Investigations, a Los Angeles-based firm that helped prepare the case, said getting a day in court before a federal judge so the victims can tell their stories is a key goal.

Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said sexual assault is not just a military problem.

“Sexual assault is a wider societal problem and Secretary Gates has been working with the service chiefs to make sure the U.S. military is doing all it can to prevent and respond to it,” Morrell said in a statement.

“That means providing more money, personnel, training and expertise, including reaching out to other large institutions such as universities to learn best practices. This is now a command priority, but we clearly still have more work to do in order to ensure all of our service members are safe from abuse.”

The suit has 17 plaintiffs — 15 women and two men — who have similar stories of being harassed and raped by someone in the military, usually a superior, only to be discouraged from reporting the crime and see the attacker escape serious punishment.

One of the plaintiffs who appeared at a Tuesday press conference is former Army Sgt. Myla Haider, who says she was raped in 2002 by a senior Army Criminal Investigative Division agent while stationed in Yongsan, Korea, in a unit that investigated, among other things, rape and sexual assault. Haider said she did not report the crime, although she confided to other agents, because her experience led her to believe the rapist would not be prosecuted.

Former Marine Cpl. Sarah Albertson is another plaintiff who met with reporters. She says she was raped in 2006 by another Marine but was advised by her command that she and the Marine could both be charged with inappropriate behavior in the barracks because they were drinking. She says she also was told to respect her accused rapist because he outranked her, and was ultimately forced to work in the same area and live in barracks one floor below the accused rapist for two years, Albertson said.

A third plaintiff who met with reporters is Kori Cioca, who served in the Coast Guard and claims she was raped in 2005 by a Coast Guard superior — something that falls outside of the Defense Department’s jurisdiction, although the Coast Guard uses a similar judicial system.

The details of Cioca’s assault is similar to Haider’s and Albertson’s. She said she was threatened with court-martial for lying if she brought rape charges against the superior, who she said pulled her into his stateroom and raped her. She said her superior ultimately was forced out of the service for allegedly having inappropriate relationships with other service members.

The Defense Department and the services have been studying sex crimes in the ranks for decades, looking for changes in culture, command structure and the judicial system to overcome a command climate that is often viewed as unreceptive and discouraging to complaints.

“Rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment are a plague upon the United States military,” said Anuradha Bhagwati, a former Marine Corps officer who is executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Service Women’s Action Network.

“As a Marine commander, I witnessed my own senior officers violate sexual harassment and sexual assault policies, shirk their responsibilities to their own troops and lie to families by ignoring abuse, transfer sexual predators out of their units instead of prosecuting them, promote sexual predators during ongoing investigations and accuse highly decorated enlisted service members of lying about their abuse simply because they were women,” she said.

That kind of command climate allows predators to get away with rape and assault, she said, noting the military’s own reports show that fewer than one in five military sexual predators face charges. “Most walk away with slaps on the wrist instead of jail time,” she said, and those who get away with rape once end up being repeat offenders.

“A very small percentage of men are the perpetrators,” she said, but 95 percent of sex crimes “are done by serial, repeat offenders.” (Click HERE for original article)

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3 Comments

  1. Comment by Ms Sparky:

    Here’s another great article regarding female veterans and Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Yep. The Military actually has an acronym for rape!

    http://thecoastnews.com/view/full_story/11464500/article-Female-veterans-connect-with-peers?sms_ss=yahoomail

  2. Comment by Debauchee69:

    Khalid Sheikh Mohammad has repeatedly described America as a ROGUE STATE that does not obey the rule of law—especially those of its own making.

    FIVE of my soldiers were raping female FEDERAL Trustees. The Company Commander informed his BN CDR who conspired with a bunch of COLs and the CG to hide the incident.

    It came across my desk and I started asking questions on it. Was the CG informed? No. Was the Provost Marshall(s) informed? No. Then I accidently briefed the CG on it and the guy started LYING to me on it. I went to Army CID and was told ‘IF they ain’t struggling, it aint rape!!! I told him I TAUGHT the Army’s Fraternazation classes and Prisons may never give concent—it’s always rape!!! Especially when the NCOs were gangbanging the prisoners!!!

    I called the Provost marshall on my own and they weren’t contacted DESPITE having DNA (the condom wasn’t flushed but retrieved). I then contacted the OAKLAND FBI office and THEY HIT THE ROOF!!!

    I later spoke to the FBI Agent assigned and she was SO PISSED OFF at the Army Footdragging that she wanted to file obstruction of justice charges.

    Of the 5 rapists, only one got busted, they were deployed!!! He got a stripe pulled and then walked over to join another unit (sounds familure?). Me? The army retaliated against me per SOP. I just spoke to a female soldier who identified herself as a Lesbian. My former 1SGT decided it would be in her best interest if she got ‘some dick’ to make her go straight—so he crept into her barracks and tried to rape her. She kicked his ass and Command did nothing for her. What are you going to do? I taught Army BN wide EOO Classes on Fraternazation and Don’t Ask/Don’t tell and ART 138s and soldier’s rights—they are all on the book but COMPLETELY UNENFORCEABLE.

    According to statistics, 30% of all female soldiers will be raped, harrassed or discriminated against. If you complain, your witnesses will be transferred, your evidence misplaced, your ARTICLE 138s thrown into the trash. I haven’t told you the fun part yet. The Army will attack you as being mentally disturbed if you file an internal report and will go after you if you ‘go outside of chain of command or across government channels. EVERYTHING I TAUGHT YOU, AT THE BATTALION LEVEL, IS AN ABSOLUTE LIE. No law, rule, regulation or proceedure will protect you if enforcement of same makes command ‘look bad’.

    Ask me about my whistleblowing. Ask me about my Command Inquiries, My IG complaints, My DoD IG complaints, my FOUR ART138s (that all went ‘missing’), my twelve FOIA requests (only two answered).

  3. Comment by Two Cents:

    Debauchee69,

    Don’t give up the fight. No matter how long it takes and how much of a long shot it is to complete. Never give up. The bad Soldiers need to be given justice. The victim soldiers need to get justice for thier closure. Again never give up. We support you and what you do to show the terrible crimes were committed. God Speed.

    Two Cents

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